So here’s the dilemma when it comes to reviewing live albums by the late, great Johnny Cash. Cash released two of the best live records of all time in 1968’s “At Folsom Prison” and 1969’s “At San Quentin,” meaning everything that comes after has impossibly large shoes to fill. Such is the case with “Man in Black: Live in Denmark 1971.”
Previously available only on DVD, the audio portion of the acclaimed concert has been released as a full-length CD for the first time. Cash and tour mates June Carter Cash, The Carter Family, Carl Perkins and The Statler Brothers were in peak form that night and the recording sounds great some 44 years later. Is the show as groundbreaking or memorable as the aforementioned prison albums? Not quite … but it will always be a delight to hear the Man in Black, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 71, do his thing in front of a live audience.
All the essential Cash tunes of the era are included on the 19-track, 57-minute release, including first-rate readings of “A Boy Named Sue,” “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Man In Black.” He and June Carter Cash also perform a Grammy winning rendition of “If I Were a Carpenter,” while Perkins (“Blue Suede Shots,” “Matchbox”) and The Statlers (“Bed of Roses,” “Flowers on the Wall”) also shine. Good stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)